STYLE: Pop RATING OUR PRODUCT CODE: 164833-25305 LABEL: Jesus Culture Music 602547514691 FORMAT: CD Album RELEASE DATE: 2017-04-21 RRP: £10.99
Reviewed by Tony Cummings
As far as I'm concerned, Kim Walker-Smith's sublime recordings with Jesus Culture and as a soloist make her the most significant female vocalist currently recording. Musically Kim has a voice of such intense interpretive power that even when singing the simplest anthem declaring devotion to the living God there is a passion and believability that no singer has been able to muster since the passing of Mahalia Jackson. Not of course that there is anything close to the African-American gospel matriarch's elegant phrasing. But Kim's stunning alto exudes the same kind of conviction and, dare I say it, soul which sets her apart from other singers. But it isn't of course a fine voice alone which makes for great recordings and, apart from a badly misjudged Christmas album, Kim has always applied herself to songs which have turned out to be some of the most memorable anthems of the whole modern worship movement. It's been a topsy-turvy four years for Walker-Smith. She, and the rest of the Jesus Culture team, have departed from Bethel Church and planted a new church in Sacramento; she has been running the Jesus Culture Music label; she has borne her husband, Skyler Smith, two children (with a third now on the way); and her father has passed away. She recently noted "during all of that the Lord has taken me on a journey of ups and downs, wrestling with pains and emotions that go along with all of those. One resounding message he kept reassuring me of is that he is on my side. This album tells a story of that journey. This collection of songs is the message he kept whispering through it all." Indeed it does. Those who might have been apprehensive that a studio album would lose much of the prophetic power that her best Jesus Culture work encompasses with its heart stopping Holy Spirit-led improvisations need not have worried. Thanks to sympathetic production there is enough room in a couple of songs to give the Spirit space to declare his presence while any worry that the 12 songs here would be too personal and fail to connect with the mass of churchgoers are wonderfully laid to rest with the closing "Fresh Outpouring", a heartfelt plea for revival fires to be stirred afresh in all of us. Buy this album and play it in your car or your home every day. It will surely have a profound effect on you.
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Kim Walker-Smith is one of the most influential female voices in worship music. Fans around the world have come to love her passionate and uninhibited sound captured on live recordings from Jesus Culture. Kim's latest full-length album, ON MY SIDE, is her first solo studio project, exploring themes of heartbreak and triumph and giving the listener a glimpse into the past few years in her journey with God. Although a departure from her live recordings, Kim's unforgettable, soulful voice continues to capture exhilarating moments of worship through both nuance and strength as she weaves together this beautiful collection of songs.